COURSE MANAGERS REPORT
This year has been a challenging year maintaining the golf course. First we had a very wet February and March and then we had a very dry and cool April and early May. This meant the greens were slightly behind last year coming into the season. Since May the weather has continued to be inconsistent. Heavy rain causes leaching of nutrients through the greens profile and also creates wash down in bunkers making them drain slower and more compacted.
I have been asked several times why green speed is inconsistent. To maintain greens between 3mm and 4mm we need to top-dress regular and feed every 5 or 6 weeks. We also need to verti-cut every 3 or 4 weeks. When you do any treatments you can’t mow the greens as low or as often as you would like. If you mow after top-dressing all you would do is pick up the dressing and blunt the blades on the mower. Verti-cutting can only be done when there is no dressing on the surface, usually 3 or 4 weeks after you have dressed. We liquid feed the greens so we don’t mow the greens for 48 hours after treatment so to allow the feed to de absorbed into the plant.
Our greens are mown at 3.8 mm on a regular basis in summer but if there is a major competition on we can drop the height down to 3.2mm and roll the greens to get them quicker. Our greens are a mixture of Bent/Poa grass. If you mow greens very low for long periods of time it stresses the Poa out . This can be shown as thinning the sward causing uneven roll, increased disease pressure and increased seed head production, leading to an increased amount of poa in the sword.
A sward with high Poa content will suffer particularly from Fusarium and Anthracnose (as shown on the top side of the 18th green last winter). Each treatment for disease costs around £700 per application.
The only way to have greens at a consistent speed in our climate is to have them slower and maintained at 4mm throughout the season.
We over-seed the greens every year with pure Bent seed and the percentage of Bent in our greens has risen year by year. We also top-dress now with straight sand to improve the firmness and drainage. This has resulted in the greens profile rising from 80% sand to 96% sand in the last 5 years.
My aim is to set the course up for a 14 handicapper on a regular basis as this seems to make it fair for everybody. You will never please everybody whatever you do. Some days the low handicappers say the greens are too slow and on the same day the higher handicappers tell me they are too quick. If I get both comments on the same day then it shows me that the speed is just about right.
Can I please ask you all to continue helping us out by repairing pitch-marks and raking bunkers.
Thank you for you continued support and the kind comments that are received regarding the course.